Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What I was doing at 6:02 AM this morning.

In an effort to shake things up I played some live limit poker last night.

No limit is certainly my specialty but I spent alot of time playing limit on the internet back during the good old days of 2004/2005. Before Bill Frist and his friends decided it was bad for me.

I was one of those guys multi tabling with 4 windows. Eventually it seemed more interesting and profitable to focus on no limit. But the math part of me still enjoys the game.

Many things have been written comparing the two games.

No limit is art. Limit is science.

I don't have Barry Greenstein's book Ace On The River in front of me right now so I'm paraphrasing here but I believe he wrote something like "In limit I play my cards. In no limit I play my opponents cards."

What he's saying is that in no limit you can get creative. You figure out what you think your opponent is holding and react to their hand. You can make moves (ie. large bets) to bluff them off or to make others believe you hold a certain hand. There is so much more going on in terms of reading players. Actions and reactions.

In limit it's all math. Once you're in a hand in many cases it's usually not correct to fold. You find two good cards and as long as you have the correct odds of winning you stay in there. Since the bets are limited you can't win or lose too much at once. However over time you can earn alot of money since you can continually exploit mistakes in your opponents strategies.

Bluffing has less effect when playing limit since you're not going to get most people to fold their cards for such a small bet. The game is more about building large pots when you hold good cards and winning enough of those overall occurrences to be profitable.

Like if I hold ace king suited and you hold pocket queens and there are 4 other players who called preflop, we both want to be reraising each other to get more money in from the other 4 inferior hands. It's not necessarily that I'm gonna win this particular hand or that you are. But we are both going to make our long term profit by punishing the other players for playing their bad cards. For example we both want to charge a player who holds king 10 and comes along for all the preflop bets. He will win this pot less often than we will. And so we want to get him to put as much money into the pot as possible. That's our job. Then whatever happens, happens.

I have given some thought lately to the idea that my win rate might be more consistent at a limit table. I won't win or lose as much as playing limit. It can get boring and feel like grinding. There's certainly not the excitement of being able to win or lose a whole buy in in one hand. But there's also nothing wrong with getting paid.

So with that in mind I wandered over to the limit section last night. I was prepared to play some 10/20. But the highest stakes offered were only 3/6. I sat down anyway.

And then the fun started.

Usually my no limit tables are full of tough guys. Old men. Professionals on vacation. And internet poker kids in sunglasses.

At my limit table last night were 4 old ladies. 2 handicapped guys. And a boyfriend and girlfriend on spring break. People you'd actually want to be friends with.

At my no limit tables there's always an intensity. People staring each other down while taking way too long to make a decision because they think they're at the final table of the World Poker Tour.

At my limit table everyone was laughing. Drinking. Having a good time.

You haven't really had fun living in Las Vegas until you've been check raised on the river by a tiny little old lady who you can barely see over the table.

In my first orbit I lost two big pots. I had second best full house and lost to the best full house held by this Russian woman from NY who I guess I shouldn't have reraised again after she reraised me the second time.

Then on the next hand I lost with my trips and a queen kicker to trips and a king kicker held by another gentleman.

Inside my head I immediately began to mock myself. I can't even beat a 3/6 limit game.

But this second hand spoke volumes. He reraised me with trips even though there were flush and straight possibilities on the board. In other words, I was playing with poor players.

Time would make me a profit. And it eventually did.

As the night went on the game got livelier and livelier. As it became 1 or 2 am I was the only original member at the table. We were now full of 20 and 30 somethings. We were doing shots of tequila.

At the no limit table I don't drink. Here, I suggested we order a second round.

Negreanu always talks about the importance of having a good time at the poker table to try to relax your opponents. This is so true at limit. No single bet is gonna kill anyone. You don't want a tight table of people folding. It's 6 freaking dollars. You want everyone to be having a good time. Playing way too many pots. Playing incorrectly.

You want the table theme to be "Of course I'm gonna call you the whole down with my gutshot draw. And occasionally I will suck out on you. But don't worry. You can call me with crap the next hand and win it back." Limit rocks.

Inevitably when you play this way and everyone is drinking and 6 people are seeing every flop hands like pocket aces have absolutely no chance of holding up. All of the big pots I won last night were always with the worse starting hand. You need to hit BS to win at these games. At higher limit money levels less players see each flop. And so good cards have a better chance of holding up. There's alot more raising and reraising to weed out the pack. Not here.

Around 3 or 4 am the game officially crossed over into the twilight zone. All the responsible kids left. The drunk ones stayed. And more joined us. In fact one guy, a doctor who had left an hour earlier came back to the table with a hooker.

This really happened.

The best part is she bought in to play.

I had been trying to leave for hours and desperately wanted to go home and go to sleep but now I just had to stay. For you guys. And of course for my bankroll.

She was great for the game in two ways.

Number one she put on a show. She started sex talking everyone. She showed the table her breasts. Now I might normally feel bad for someone like this but she was so freaking comfortable in who she was and what she was doing that she made it okay.

And number two she played every single hand. She bet or raised every time the action came to her. She kept firing off lines like "I tip the valet 20 bucks, of course I'm gonna bet 6 dollars."

She also wanted to keep going all in and thus she complained often ("I hate that rule") about the 3 dollar preflop limit.

She made the game good.

At this point I was playing any two cards. With this kind of action you just have to see a flop.

I kept going to the showdown with her if I hit anything at all. Some of the other players at the table were scared of her. But I figured all I needed to beat was a random hand.

The first hand I flopped top pair but she beat me when we she hit her gutshot straight on the river. For some reason she didn't bet it after betting every other street chasing. I think she didn't know she hit a straight.

Then I got hot and won three other hands where she helped create gigantic pots for me. I should also give a shout out to the two drunk guys to my right who were reraising each other preflop without looking at their cards.

The best one was me holding ace 3 in the big blind. Flop came out 3,3, rag. She bets, drunk guy raises. Repeat. The three of them bet it all the way to the river. On the river I checked to her and she bet. This time the drunk guys both folded.

I check raised. She called me down with 9 high.

This is what I've become.

I'm check raising hookers at 3/6 limit poker at 6:02 am.

This could have gone on all day as far as I was concerned. Lets order some coffee. But it all fell apart after she won a big pot from one of the drunk guys who then threw a tantrum. He insisted she was colluding with the guy who she came in with. The floor guy was called over. She insisted that she wasn't colluding. She said she was saying "sexy stuff" to him. Then she gave a few examples. But this was too much to handle for the drunk kids.

So the drunk kid then verbally attacks her with some comment. He asks how many guys she's slept with. Come on dude. You lost a pot at 3/6. Get over it.

But he can't. He goes on to say he wants to buy her for 5 dollars. I want to mention that when I was getting my car at the valet I saw her leave in a brand new BMW so his estimation of her price was probably as good as his poker game.

The gross part though wasn't this woman's sex talk but rather that the drunk guys were actually colluding. They kept showing each other their cards. They kept saying stuff to me like lets both reraise each other and then we can split the pot.

I just tried to just ignore them. But in a classic junior high school moment the drunk guy kept whispering to me asking me what I had and the dealer freaking yells at me. So now I flip out. I've been playing with this dealer for a month. He knows my face. He knows I hardly ever say a word at the table. It's 6 in the morning, I'm the only other sober person here and he thinks I'm the problem?

It all turned into the WWF. The floor man yelling at the hooker. The hooker yelling at the drunk guy. The drunk guy still asking me what I have. And me yelling at the dealer. Best of all we're still in the middle of a hand.

When it all quieted down the game immediately fell apart which was a damn shame too.

I finally found some players that I'm better than.

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